Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Most Amusing Game of The (week)

Normally, I would wait until all the games have at least started before announcing this week's prize, but I feel it's quite impossible for anyone to outdo Jan van der Mortel's absurd Monday night heroicism. Weak players might assume that 2 knights vs. 1 knight is a "book" draw, but the Morsel understands that a vast chasm separates theory and practice.

And really, if you are playing the worse side of this endgame, wouldn't you be slightly tempted to lose? I feel that this is the only course of action open to a true artist. Team situation be damned, this is a chance to make history.

Now, it's impossible to construct a checkmate with 2 knights vs 1 in the middle of the board, so at minimum the defender's king must be on the edge, and his/her knight must occupy a neighboring square. Let's take a look at the Silver Serper's missed opportunities:

Jan van der Morsel - Gregory Serper
USCL Week four, Seattle - Chicago board 2
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d6 3.d4 Nbd7 4.Bg2 e5 5.c4 c6 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Nc3 Be7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Qc2 Qc7 10.h3 a5 11.Rd1 Nc5 12.Be3 h6 13.Rab1 Be6 14.a3 Qc8 15.Bxc5 Bxc5 16.b4 axb4 17.axb4 Be7 18.Nxe5 Bf5 19.e4 Bxh3 20.c5 Qe6 21.Nf3 Bxg2 22.Kxg2 Rfd8 23.Nd4 Qc4 24.Nf5 Bf8 25.Ne3 Qe6 26.Qb3 Qxb3 27.Rxb3 Rxd1 28.Nexd1 Rb8 29.Kf3 b6 30.cxb6 Rxb6 31.b5 Ne8 32.Rb1 cxb5 33.Rxb5 Rxb5 34.Nxb5 Nd6 35.Nc7 Nc4 36.Nc3 Bd6 37.N7d5 g6 38.Ke2 Be5 39.Nd1 h5 40.f4 Bg7 41.e5 Na5 42.N1c3 Nc6 43.Kd3 Kf8 44.Ne4 Ne7 45.Ne3 Ng8 46.Nc5 Ke8 47.Ke4 Bf8 48.Nd3 Bh6 49.Nc4 Ne7 50.Nd6+ Kf8 51.Nc5 Ng8 52.Nc8 Ke8 53.Nd6+ Ke7 54.Nc8+ Kd8 55.Nd6 Ke7 56.Nc4 f6 57.f5 gxf5+ 58.Kxf5 fxe5 59.Kg6 Bf4 60.Ne4 Bxg3 61.Nxg3 h4 62.Nf5+ Ke6 63.Nxh4 e4 64.Ne3 Ne7+ 65.Kg5 Nd5 66.Nc4 e3 67.Nf3 Nc3 68.Nxe3 Ne4+ 69.Kf4 Nf6 70.Ng5+ Kd6 71.Kf5 Nd5 72.Ne4+ Kc6 73.Nc2 Ne7+ 74.Ke6 Ng6 75.Nd4+ Kb6 76.Kd6 Nf4 77.Nf6 Ka5 78.Kc5 Nd3+ 79.Kc4

The blunder 79...Ne5+ was played. Black missed his chance to win worldwide notoriety and my undying admiration with the cunning continuation: 79...Nb4 80.Nd7 Na6! 81.Kb3 Nc7 82.Ne5 Na6! 83.Nc4#!

chances like these don't come around too often....

80.Kd5 Nd3 81.Nd7 Kb4 82.Nb8 Kc3 83.Nb5+ Kd2 84.Kd4 Nb4 85.Nd6 Nc2+ 86.Ke4 Kc3 87.Nc6 Nb4 88.Ne7 Kb3 89.Nef5 Nc2 90.Kd3 Ne1+ 91.Ke2 Nc2 92.Kd2 Na3 93.Kd3

93. Kb4??
Again, throwing away the loss: 93...Ka2! The easiest method is to move the king directly to the corner. 94. Kd2 Ka1! 95. Kc1 Ka2 96. Ne4 Ka1 97. Nd4 Ka2 Notice the patience with which black maneuvers. 98. Nc3+ Ka1 99. Nb3#.

No one ever said losing was easy.

94.Ne4 Nc4 95.Kd4 Na5 96.Ne3 Nc6+ 97.Kd5 Ne7+ 98.Kd6 Nc8+ 99.Kc7 Na7 100.Kb6 Nc8+ 101.Kc6 Na7+ 102.Kd5 Nb5 103.Nd1 Nc7+ 104.Kd4 Ne6+ 105.Ke3 Nc5 106.Nd6 Nb3 107.Nb2 Kc5 108.Nbc4 Na5 109.Nxa5 Kxd6 1/2 -1/2


Pascal said...


Anonymous said...

I don't know... maybe you jumped the gun. Larry Christiansen losing his queen on move 9 is certainly a contender for your award.

Then again, I think that White should have sacked his remaining knight to see Serper try to win with just the two knights.

Mark Ginsburg said...

I had to "defend" KNN vs K in the US Championship, San Diego 2006 vs Lugo. At several points I could have moved into mate. :O

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Anon 2:48, I could not disagree more. There is a danger in the GOTW contest that judges will rank a mediocre game higher than they should because they expect a strong game from strong players. Same here (sort of). Would Benjamin - Christiansen attract any attention if the players weren't GMs? I doubt it.

I'm interested in quality ridiculousness, not ratings.